It’s that time of year again. No, no, not the holidays, though it is that too; it’s time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t work in the garden this past year. To the extent I can, I like to try to determine why somethings worked and somethings didn’t. Overall, the garden was a success this year. We had some surprises, both in what worked and what didn’t. The photo above is some of the horseradish we harvested over Thanksgiving, and that is taking over the garden.
One of the big surprises, and a still ongoing success, has been the kale. I never grew kale in the past. I also never ate much kale. I always thought kale chips were one of those things health nuts try to push on you as a substitute for a potato chip – you know, something salty, a little crunchy, the perfect substitution. A perfect substitution for a thick, salty potato chip it is not. A nice snack, it is. I would roast torn pieces of kale in a single layer that I spritzed with a little olive oil, sprinkled a little sea salt and herbs-de-Provence over, and cook in the upper oven of the Aga (which runs at about 425 degrees) for 5 – 10 minutes until crisp, dry, and just starting to turn golden around the edges. They were a great accompaniment to the end to a day in the garden while enjoying a mixed drink in the courtyard. We have also used a lot of kale in bean soups and frozen it after a quick blanch and wringing out for use later. Because we haven’t had a really hard frost at the garden the kale is still going strong, having been planted last March.
Another huge success were the various peppers and chilies. For hot pepper we grew: serrano, Thai hot, habanero, and ghost peppers. For sweet peppers we grew: Shishito, Cupid, and Carmen peppers. We had great production and they all worked for their intended use. Most of the peppers were dug up and put in pots to bring down to warmer areas for the winter. The peppers I did this with last winter than replanted in the garden last summer far out-produced plants started for last summer. I am hoping that happens again and that I can plant fewer peppers and achieve greater production, while leaving space for something else.
A partial failure this year were the various tomatoes. As near as I can tell we had way too much rain during a few storms. That, combined with the fact that I have to set the irrigation for anticipated and likely weather, resulted in plants being over watered last summer. Not something I anticipated for the high-mountain desert. Oh well, we still had lots of great tasting tomatoes, just not the huge amount I expected. The beats were also a failure, I think for the same reason.
The two graphics with this post shows what we harvested for most of the summer. I got a late start on recording so I missed a few things. For example, the blackberries and raspberries peaked the two weeks before I started recording. I also did not record all the kale or herbs. We used a huge amount of fresh-from-the-garden herbs at Thanksgiving. Since we had them fresh, and I assume we may eventually get a good frost, why not use them?
I have to get back to analyzing last summer’s garden and perusing the seed catalogs that are starting to arrive in the mail and online. It is hard to believe I have to place a seed order soon to start all over for next summer.